By Tessa Raebeck
Bridgehampton residents turned down the Bridgehampton School District’s attempt to pierce the New York State mandated tax levy cap with its 2014-15 budget on Tuesday.
Although the budget passed by a margin of 134 to 113, it failed to gain the 60-percent supermajority required to pierce the cap, coming in short at just above 54 percent. A total of 247 residents cast ballots.
Since the spending plan did not gain the necessary support, the Board of Education will go back to the drawing board, asking voters to return to the polls a second time with either a reduced budget or an identical one. If the second vote fails, the district must adopt a 0-percent tax levy increase, which would force it to adopt last year’s budget and craft a new plan that cuts $1 million from the one proposed.
“It’s disappointing because just to run a vote kicks us in the budget,” Dr. Lois Favre, who is both superintendent and principal for the district, said following the vote.
The $12.3 million budget would have increased spending by $1.4 million, or 9.9 percent. It would have required a $10.6 million tax levy, an 8.8-percent increase that district officials said would amount to an increase of about $56 for the year on the tax bill of a house valued at $500,000.
“We’ll meet as a board and we have to bring the budget back up to the public and hope for a better result next time,” Dr. Favre said.
“It’s disappointing,” agreed Lillian Tyree-Johnson, vice president of the school board.
A proposition on the ballot to provide $160,000 in funding for the Bridgehampton Childcare and Recreation Center was approved by a 157-to-89 vote margin.
School Board Elections
Also on Tuesday, Bridgehampton voters elected newcomers Kathleen McCleland and Jeffrey Mansfield to two seats on the school board. Mr. Mansfield received 187 votes, Ms. McCleland received172 and Michael Gomberg came in third with 72 votes.
The positions were left vacant when incumbents Gabriela Braia and Elizabeth Kotz both decided not to run again.
Mr. Mansfield, 49, has been visiting Bridgehampton since he was a child and moved to the district full-time in 2008 after a 17-year career on Wall Street. He now works as a stay-at-home dad to his three children, ages 4, 6 and 7, who all attend Bridgehampton School. He is also active in the community, serving as a member of the Southampton Town Audit Advisory Committee, vice chairman of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee and active in the Bridgehampton School Foundation and the Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Little League.
With a mother who worked as a public school teacher for over 30 years, Mr. Mansfield considers himself a “champion of education.”
“I think education is the tool that breaks the cycle of poverty and ignorance,” Mr. Mansfield said during a Meet the Candidates forum in May. “It behooves all of us to have a wonderful school district.”
A Bridgehampton native, Ms. McCleland moved back home in 2004 to start a family. Before that, she spent some time in Manhattan working as a personal chef and in corporate event planning at Goldman Sachs.
Ms. McCleland’s two children now attend the school. She works as the pastry chef for the Beacon and the Bell of Anchor restaurants, of which her husband Sam is chef and co-owner.
“I’m very excited at the prospect of taking on the challenges of the school board,” Ms. McCleland said Tuesday night after the results were announced.
The newcomers’ three-year terms on the school board will start July 1 and run through June 30, 2017.